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Conversation with Jim Ventre ’79

Phillips Academy welcomes students from nearly every state in the U.S. and dozens of countries abroad. Together with inspirational teachers and mentors, youth from every quarter immerse themselves in an educational experience unlike any other. As you consider whether Andover may be right for you, we offer the following conversation with the dean and links to learn more:

Meet Andover students and faculty on Walkabout

Take the campus Virtual Tour

Join Andover admission on Facebook

Read the latest entry in the Admission Blog

Begin your application with the Candidate Profile

How can I find the school that fits me best?

A school cannot be all things to all students. The most successful schools are clear about what they do well and what they do not hold as priorities. Once you open your mind to the possibility of attending a boarding school and remove geographic constraints from your search, you can find the right fit. Explore not only what each school offers in terms of academics, arts, and athletics but also whom it strives to serve and which values it holds dear.

What are Phillips Academy’s values?

Founded during the Revolutionary War to educate youth from every quarter in the new democracy, Andover holds a special place in American education. Its 1778 Constitution established the Academy’s institutional precepts of youth from every quarter, non sibi (not for self), knowledge and goodness, and the idea that an Andover education must also serve a greater good. These inspiring thoughts set the Academy on a path to leadership in American education.

The end depends upon the beginning (finis origine pendet) is another important founding precept. When thinking about your educational options, begin with those schools whose values and programs match your interests and talents. Consider how you may grow and change during your high school years. Who you become ultimately has roots in how you begin your journey. Your “beginning” includes the caring foundation formed by your family, close friends, and the teachers who have helped you get to where you are today. High school teachers, friends, coaches, and mentors also will play important roles in shaping your life going forward. As I have shared with you already, I believe that the values of your secondary school will also inform your future path.

What do these values and ideals mean for me as a candidate for Andover?

A good match for Phillips Academy is a student who shares the school’s values. Yes, Andover students are bright and talented; they are also kind, interested in cultures other than their own, and passionate about in making a difference in the world. They are eager to devote themselves to a community that invites diverse perspectives and opinions. They are motivated to succeed, but not at the expense of others. They are leaders, by example first, and by position second. They are open to the opportunity of the world today and are willing to work hard to tackle the problems of the future.

What’s it like to live and learn at Andover?

Andover’s academic, extracurricular, and residential programs best serve students who are strong academically, are self-motivated, intellectually curious, and passionate about the world around them. With more than 300 courses, including some 130 electives, our program is both broad and deep, offering opportunities for advanced study, group work, self-designed projects, and faculty-mentored research.

Developing independent, globally-minded young people is a hallmark of an Andover education. Students learn important life skills such as time management, empathy and personal responsibility. We expect parents will be partners in this process. We have a graduated program of independence and responsibility that supports students as they grow.

What are the students like?

Andover students love to try new things. With more than 80 clubs, competitive academic and athletic teams, and dozens of community service opportunities, there is plenty to try. Students pursue existing passions, and are just as excited to discover new ones. The students who are happiest at Andover choose the school because they want to be challenged. We often describe the magical combination of Andover’s rigorous program and casual social setting. Students celebrate each other’s successes and appreciate talent and excellence in all forms -- music, sports, theater, fine art....

Our students work hard and play hard. A typical weekend includes activities on and off campus. Dances, cultural excursions, book discussions and poetry slams, guest speakers and master classes, athletic contests, theatre productions, trips to the mall or movies, dorm munches....Andover weekends are packed with structured events and more casual opportunities to hang out with friends.

What type of student will thrive at Andover?

Passionate, dedicated, open-minded, curious, smart, adventurous, fun, determined -- and kind -- are among the ways I would describe students who are good matches for Andover. In searching for your next school, think deeply about your core values, your educational goals, and how those imperatives match a school’s programs, community and mission.

Each year, as we consider a new group of students for admission, we aim to identify those who have the most to gain from, and the most to give to, the Andover experience. We take great pride knowing that our investment in each student’s growth also represents an investment in the future. We have seen how an Andover education transforms our students’ lives and, in turn, how our graduates transform the lives of others.

Andover seems like a stretch financially. Is it really affordable?

The intentional openness of the Phillips Academy community began when its first board of trustees decided to provide need-based scholarships to the Academy’s very first students, a rare viewpoint at that time but one that reflected the Academy’s democratic values. Those time-tested values remain starkly relevant in the 21st century.

Today, Andover is one of very few schools – or colleges or universities – to offer need-blind admission. This policy, endorsed by the board of trustees in 2007 and carried forward ever since, promises that a student’s financial circumstances will have no bearing on his or her candidacy for admission. More than 46 percent of Andover students receive financial aid scholarships, and all demonstrated need is met 100 percent.

I hope this conversation has piqued your interest in Andover. It may also have prompted other questions. Please contact the Office of Admission if we can be of further help: 978-749-4050 or

There have been only seven boys’ varsity basketball coaches at Phillips Academy.

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